Caring for someone with dementia can be an extremely challenging time. But as a family member, we know you’re there offering unconditional love, care and support to your loved one from the very beginning, no matter how difficult it gets.

At Home Instead, we truly understand the challenges you may be facing. In light of Dementia Awareness Month, we’re offering some valuable tips on how to better understand and care for a loved one with dementia.

What is dementia?

Dementia is a group of conditions that strongly affects the brain. Characteristics typically include a decline in cognitive ability, problem solving, communication skills and memory. Dementia can also affect the way a person thinks and behaves. They may be unable to remember who their loved ones are and can even hinder their ability to take care of themselves properly.

It can be extremely difficult for families and friends to watch someone near and dear to them develop dementia. However, despite the challenges they may face, many people with this condition go on to live very fulfilling, happy and meaningful lives.

We have provided a range of ways you can support your loved one to feel safe, happy and empowered, even in the face of memory loss.

Tips for caring for someone with dementia

Depending on your loved one’s individual needs, the type of dementia they have and the stage of their condition, these guidelines can be adapted to suit your loved one’s abilities.

1. Improve your communication skills

Dementia can make it difficult for a person to understand communication and follow conversations happening around them. You can help to reduce confusion by ensuring your communication is clear.

Use body language, facial expressions and signals, along with a calm and friendly tone of voice, to improve your communication when interacting with a person living with dementia. Try to use simple and clear sentences when speaking and don’t be afraid to repeat yourself if they do not understand.

2. Stick to routines where you can

Establishing some form of structure around the day can be helpful to clients with dementia. Routines can provide the person with familiarity and comfort, which in turn can lessen any anxiety and stress.

Whether it’s taking a walk around the park each morning, going to church on weekends or eating meals at the same time every day, a regular routine can enable someone living with dementia to continue to live as independently as possible in the comfort and familiarity of their own home.

3. Break activities down into simple steps

Tasks become far more manageable for anyone once they have been broken down into smaller, simpler steps. For someone living with dementia, it may be much easier for them to understand a task if it is explained one step at a time enabling them to complete each step before considering the next step.

You can assist your loved one to maintain a sense of independence by encouraging them to complete tasks they enjoy step by step. Whether it’s helping to cook a meal, doing the washing, showering or brushing their hair, you can be there to prompt them through each step of the process.

Through this approach you can bring a sense of purpose to your loved one’s day, knowing that they can accomplish tasks on their own.

4. Keep the mind stimulated

Participating in enjoyable and social activities with your loved one helps to keep their mind stimulated. Simple and calming everyday activities, such as folding laundry, organising socks, playing puzzles, colouring in and looking through family photo albums, can prevent frustration in the person living with dementia. These activities may also help to maintain a person’s skills and abilities, as well as increase their self-esteem and even assist with short-term memory loss.

Try not to overstimulate by keeping activities easy and manageable and make sure the person is happy to take part. If your loved one seems resistant at first, do not pressure them and simply try again later. The important thing is that they feel relaxed and enjoy the experience.

5. Keep calm, relaxed and happy

There’s no doubt that caring for someone with dementia can be testing at times for their family carers. However, some stressful situations can cause people with dementia to become agitated, upset and even aggressive.

Avoid showing any anger or frustration towards your loved one. If you do find yourself feeling stressed or overwhelmed, take some time out and confide in your support network. This way you will be ready to come back into your caring role with a clear head.

For more information on caring for someone with dementia, you can download our free Dementia Resource, which has been designed specially to provide practical support for carers and families.

Our care

Research has shown that people with dementia benefit significantly from remaining in the familiar surroundings of their home for as long as possible. Our in-home care services make this possible, providing your loved one with the care and support they need when you can’t be there yourself.

Our CAREGivers have been selected because of their passion for providing the best possible care for seniors. They have had extensive training in the understanding and care of dementia clients to be able to attend to their every need with compassion and dignity. Please visit our Dementia Care Services page for more information.

If you would like to show your support for Dementia Awareness Month, you can visit the Dementia Australia website where you will also find more tips and information on caring for someone with dementia, how to donate to the cause, and where to find the nearest event to you.